New Zimbabwe.com

High Court Judge Blasts Lawyers For Failing To Attend Trials

By Matabeleland North Correspondent

BULAWAYO High Court judge, Nokuthula Moyo has lambasted lawyers in the country for causing unnecessary backlog in the hearing of civil cases through continuous excuses and failing to turn up for court trials.

Justice Moyo was officially opening the Hwange High Court circuit when she said many civil cases failed to take off because lawyers and their clients were not available, thereby clogging the justice delivery system.

The Hwange circuit cases are handled by Bulawayo High court judges who visit the station three times per year while civil cases are heard in Bulawayo.

Bulawayo High Court area of jurisdiction covers Binga, Nkayi, Lupane, Victoria Falls, Tsholotsho and Hwange in Matabeleland North, as well as Matabeleland South province.

“The civil division of the Bulawayo High Court received 2 341 cases during the year 2019. The year had been opened with 490 cases brought forward from the previous year and the station thus completed 2 313 cases in the year 2019,” said Justice Moyo.

On the criminal side, Bulawayo High Court handled 3 465 cases in 2019, a 35% increase from 2 651 in 2018.

“It becomes important to address legal practitioners on the issue of civil trials failing to take off. A judge sits in different courts throughout the term doing appeals, both criminal and civil, civil trials, criminal trials, motion court, urgent applications and reviews. 

“As judges, we do stretch our capacity and try to accommodate more than three civil trials per week. It is the legal practitioners who then let us down. After having set such matters down, a number of them will not take off due to various excuses coming from legal practitioners ranging from clients not being available, to lawyers not being available.

“This situation makes our quest to deliver justice within a reasonable time. Matters for trial in the civil registry keep on pilling up with the issuance of new summons but the disposal rate is greatly hampered by litigants and their lawyers who are always not ready due to numerous reasons,” said Justice Moyo.

She said as a result, some cases are always recycled.

She called for the amendment of High Court rules to include a clause that can make cases that are not heard in their specified time, thrown away.

“Something definitely has to be done to keep the legal practitioners and their clients on their toes because we cannot be servicing a long queue of matters that are set down and yet removed from the roll without being finalised,” added Justice Moyo.

She said the court will always fight to end corruption in the country as well as violence particularly the new wave of machete gangs that have caused havoc mostly in mining areas.

The Hwange High Court circuit will run for two weeks with 20 murder cases set down.